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  • BPI: Where Equality Matters...
  • 713-614-3322

Blind LGBT Pride Bids Farewell to 2013

BPI Members and Friends: As we get ready to usher in 2014, it is my hope that this Holiday season has been filled with the best in family, friends, and all that is good and positive around you. Whenever this time of year comes around, I can’t help but reflect on where things are, how things have been, and the future that lies ahead. The past 16 months of my presidency have definitely been an enlightening and enriching learning experience. I will admit that there have been times when I have asked myself what has been accomplished during this time. Though they may not seem like much, our accomplishments keep paving the way for a better BPI. As with any organization, no organization can exist without an honest representation of its membership. As such, a long and arduous process was taken to ensure an accurate count of Blind Pride’s membership. It was during this time that BPI, along with other affiliates under the American Council of the Blind, (ACB) worked diligently to implement an online database for the certification of members. This year, Blind Pride’s membership voted to broaden its membership criteria to those allies who support Blind Pride’s mission statement. No matter your vision status, or sexual orientation, we have added membership classes to fit your situation. Whether you are a Regular, Student, Associate, Supporting, or Lifetime member, we now have a place where all are welcome. For more information visit: http://blindlgbtpride.org/joinrenew-membership/. While on the subject of ACB, we have ensured a more active and unified collaboration with other affiliates within ACB during our annual conference and convention. Topics covered ranged from federal rights for BLIND and LGBT individuals, entrepreneurship, and successful transitioning for students in all phases of education and/or employment. Lastly with regard to membership, BPI saw growth with the chartering of Blind LGBT Pride of Texas at our annual convention. In the area of Public Relations, BPI was consulted by author Brandon Shire who has written a gay erotic fiction novel entitled Afflicted in which the main character happens to be blind. As a result of this consultation, the author acknowledged Blind Pride in his book. Secondly, BPI’s social media presence became more active than ever, thereby expanding the international part of our name both on Twitter and on Facebook. Finally, our web presence saw improvements in hopes that our page is more streamlined. We have even made our site more interactive by implementing a blog where members and the public may post comments. We continually use these powerful tools to gather information of interest for our members on a worldwide scale. We will continue to work with LGBT oriented media outlets to ensure that their publications and services are made accessible to those that wish to have access. In other developments, BPI was proud to make history as we added a ninth board position, that of 2nd Vice President. We also elected our first international Board Member At Large from Canada. Speaking of elections, following the ratification of amendments to BPI’s constitution and bylaws in 2012, those not able to attend convention were able to vote electronically for the first time this Past July. This is certainly a major milestone for BPI as we continue to provide tangible services to our members. This brings us to the present times. The past few months have allowed us the opportunity to focus our efforts in fund-raising and programming for BPI. Both the Fund-raising and Programs Committees are working together to ensure a successful conference and convention next year, but also to ensure viable ways to engage in successful fund-raising for the future. What is in store for BPI in 2014? Looking ahead, we plan to find more ways to implement tools for education and outreach purposes. Our hope is to continue to work with other affiliates within ACB, as well as LGBT related groups in the regular mainstream society to dispel any myths out there, and make people aware of the needs that face this very unique community of blind LGBT individuals. One of the many questions that is often asked by members of the blind community is what does our group have to do with blindness? Anything from access to information to legislation, to advocacy, there is so much that goes along with being blind and LGBT. Blind Pride is the only organization of its kind around the world that represents the needs of Blind and Visually impaired LGBT people. Wouldn’t it be exciting to offer a service where someone can go to, either online or by phone that would provide a centralized information and referral service pertinent to people who are blind and LGBT in their community? Wouldn’t it be fantastic if we could provide scholarship opportunities for those interested in higher education? Or, an awesome youth mentorship/alliance program that would engage youth in the interchange of each other’s lives? You see, it is awkward enough being blind, but then to be blind and LGBT, trying to fit into a “regular” way of living where you’re constantly having to adapt to day-to-day norms is totally a different, yet challenging experience. This exchange would not only improve social skills, but would do wonders for both the psychological, as well as the educational well- being of our youth. All of these ideas, as well as any other programs and future endeavors take time, maybe some research and volunteering, and yes, even your much needed contributions. Your donations are very much needed. Blind Pride is a 501C3 organization, and your contributions are tax deductible. No contribution is too big or too small. You can pay securely by credit card using PayPal. Visit http://blindlgbtpride.org/donate/. Alternatively, you can make a check out to Blind LGBT Pride International. The address is: Blind LGBT Pride International c/o: Guillermo Robles 5010 Echo Street, Unit A. Los Angeles CA, 90042. In closing, I just want to thank those who have supported the work of BPI. As I said in the beginning of my letter, these have been interesting times, and I have enjoyed every minute of it. Here’s to all the best that 2014 can offer. May you and your loved ones have a blessed and happy new year. With Much Pride, Guillermo Robles President, Blind LGBT Pride International

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